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August 23, 2000|LARRY STEWART

What: Raid Gauloises endurance race

Where: Outdoor Life Network

When: Tonight 8-10.

Raid is race in France; Gauloises is the sponsoring tobacco company; the event is the world's ultimate text of endurance. The 10th Raid Gauloises was held in early May in the rugged Himalayan mountainous terrain of Nepal, Tibet and China. The winning team among 69--each consists of four men and a woman--covered the 827 kilometers in six days, with stragglers coming in over the next four days. Of the 69 teams, 25 dropped out by Day 3.

Only the strong survive.

It's interesting that Outdoor Life has chosen to put its version of "Survivor" up against that other version tonight on CBS.

There is a connection. Mark Burnett, the creator and executive producer of CBS' "Survivor," competed in three Raid Gauloises races. He also created a similar event, the Eco-Challenge, before pitching his idea of "Survivor" to CBS.

The Outdoor Life show will focus on the two leading teams, Salomon Land Rover of the U.S. and Nokia Adventure of Finland. Incredibly, only three minutes separated the top two teams at the finish.

Begun in 1989 by French journalist Gerard Fusil, the first Raid Gauloises was limited to Frenchmen and lasted three days. The race since has been held in such locations at Madagascar, Borneo, South Africa, Ecuador and Argentina. Fifteen nations were represented this year.

Since the first Raid, participation in adventure races has increased an average of 65% a year. There are approximately 200 adventure competitions scheduled around the world this year.

The announcers on tonight's two-hour presentation will be Duncan Smith, a former Navy SEAL who founded the Para adventure racing academy, and Dawn Heusser, a triathlete and actress. Outdoor Life is available in 26 million homes nationwide.

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